Rolling Up Her Sleeves – To Code

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Founder of TechLadies Elisha Tan is Singapore’s female version of Jimmy Neutron. She tells us how women can be good at coding, and be the bug squisher we were meant to be.

By Michelle Tay

“To be in control, everyone must learn technology and not let it control us.”

Elisha Tan is Singapore’s very own female Jimmy Neutron. As a firm believer of coding becoming today’s new form of literacy, the millennial changemaker is certain that software is eating the world.  

“To be in control, everyone must learn technology and not let it control us. My programming journey was born out of necessity. As a person with a non-technical role at a startup, I tried looking for a tech co-founder but couldn’t find any. That’s when I rolled up my sleeves and learnt how to do it myself,” recalls Elisha.

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that the tech community is built on giving. All the popular languages and frameworks are free to use (open source), which are contributed by developers from around the world.” she adds.

Yet, gender diversity continues to be a deep-seated problem in IT. If a woman wants to learn how to code or become a software engineer, Elisha believes that being female shouldn’t hold her back.

“To close the gender gap, we must first be invested in solving it,” says Elisha. “It can get lonely learning solo, and frustrating when you hit a problem that cannot be solved by reading online. That is why we created TechLadies – a tech community for women.”

Putting those who are learning the same coding language in touch with each other, TechLadies gives women a space and all the support they need from the tech community to reach their goals.

“Don’t give up. Women and minority groups can create amazing tech solutions to help both themselves and others.”

Like TechLadies, other tech groups such as Girls in Tech, Singapore Geek Girls, and Rails Girls have the same goal of working towards achieving gender diversity in the technology world. At the international level, communities like PyLadies, PHP Women, Rails Bridge, and Girl Develop It are also working together to make the tech industry a more vibrant and inclusive one.

For Elisha, programming is the perfect recipe for problem-solving. It is an act of creation, the ability to dream of an idea and code it into existence. Therefore, the best way to learn coding is to work on a product that solves a problem.

“It gives you something to look forward to, which helps you persevere when there’s a bug that can’t be fixed and you feel like punching your laptop.” warns Elisha.

“Don’t give up. Women and minority groups can create amazing tech solutions to help both themselves and others. Be the bug squisher we were meant to be and show something off to tech and non-tech friends when you become good at coding!”

Still unsure about learning how to code? “Don’t sweat it. A lot of people get stuck at deciding a coding language. What one should decide on is either building a web or mobile app,” assures Elisha.  

Don’t be afraid to approach the friendly technologists, she adds. Because coding has the ability to create tools and frame thinking processes that help problem-solving, what matters is finding a tribe that supports your learning journey in a particular coding language.

Images by TechLadies and Esther Yeo


TechLadies aims to increase women’s participation in the tech industry. Keen to learn programming skills? Tweet @elishatan to find out more about the 10 week part-time bootcamp.

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